New Delhi: In the wake of purported WhatsApp conversations between Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) head Partho Dasgupta emerging in the public domain, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) on Monday said ratings of television news channels should remain suspended till the TV ratings agency takes action to address concerns and shares details of it with the stakeholders.
In a statement, the Rajat Sharma-headed NBA said it is "shocked to see hundreds of WhatsApp messages that have been exchanged between BARC India's former CEO -- Partho Dasgupta -- and Arnab Goswami, Managing Director, ARG Outlier Media Pvt. Ltd".
It demanded that the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) membership of Republic TV should be suspended with immediate effect till the case related to manipulation of ratings is pending in court.
According to the statement, the NBA urged the BARC to come up with a clear statement about the veracity of its ratings in the period during the audit and also conduct an audit of the Hindi news segment.
"Expunge the data of the erring broadcaster and restate the real position of rankings of all news channels from the beginning," it demanded from the ratings agency.
The BARC should explain the concrete steps taken by it in the last three months to secure the ratings and bring transparency to the process as well as create a system, whereby any change to the ratings that impacts the news ecosystem is done only after due consultation with a BARC sub-committee of NBA nominees, it said.
The NBA also asked the BARC to explain what penal actions are provided for in its constitution against broadcasters who have indulged in manipulation of ratings of this magnitude and what action will be taken in the current case.
The ratings of news channels must remain suspended till the time all details of such actions taken by the BARC are shared with the stakeholders, it said.
The NBA's board also wants to place on record that the "corrupt data released month after month" has not only led to reputation loss, but has also caused huge financial losses to news broadcasters, for which the BARC is duty-bound to give an explanation, the statement said.
Dasgupta, who was arrested in the fake Television Rating Point (TRP) case, is now in the ICU of the state-run JJ hospital in central Mumbai.
A diabetic, he was rushed to the hospital from the Taloja Central Prison in Navi Mumbai on Saturday after his blood sugar levels went up on Friday midnight.
As the controversy surrounding the alleged TRP scam grew, the BARC, which provides TRP data, announced a temporary suspension of the weekly ratings of news channels across languages in October last year.
The NBA is the largest organisation of news broadcasters, consisting of almost all major news networks of the country. Republic TV, however, is not a member of the NBA.